GLAA endorses HPV Vaccination and Reporting Act
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D.C. Council

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GLAA endorses HPV Vaccination and Reporting Act

Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
(202) 667-5139

Testimony on Bill 17-0030,

The HPV Vaccination and Reporting Act of 2007

Before the Committee on Health

February 9, 2007

Good morning, Chairman Catania, Councilmembers and fellow citizens.

My name is Bob Summersgill. I am representing the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA), the oldest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights organization in the country.

We are in favor of this legislation and we thank you, Chairman David Catania, and Councilmember Cheh for introducing it, and Councilmembers Barry, Brown, Evans, Graham, Gray, Mendelson, Schwartz, Wells for co-sponsoring.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the most common STD in the United States, infecting 6.2 million people every year, and D.C. has the highest rates in the country with similarly high rates of cervical cancer. The Mautner Project for Women with Cancer and the American Cancer Society (ACS) report that lesbians have higher rates of cervical cancer than other women. This adds to the high rates of cervical cancer for lesbians in D.C.

ACS states that the best defense against cancer is prevention and early detection. Routine pap smears have had a significant impact in reducing cervical cancer, but combined with immunization those rates should drop much further, sparing thousands of women and their families from cervical cancer. Unfortunately it may take decades to see the results of vaccinations of children today, but the sooner we start the better.

The vaccine has so far only been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for girls and women, but it has been approved for boys and men in Australia and the European Union for boys. It would be a good idea to include in this legislation the option for the Mayor to extend the vaccination requirement to boys if the FDA makes that approval.

The benefits of immunizing boys are twofold. First, it would a limit a vector for infections of unvaccinated women; and second it would help reduce the incidence of anal cancer for both men and women. Anal cancer is caused by the same HPV strains that cause cervical cancer. It is most common in men who have histories of receptive anal intercourse; however, it can affect anyone. There is an annual rate of about 35 cases per 100,000 in the U.S., but that figure nearly doubles in people living with HIV. While D.C. has the highest infection rates in the country for both HPV and HIV, anything that we can do to reduce these rates will be a significant benefit for all of us.

Another section of law that should be addressed by this committee as part of an overall strategy to reduce sexually transmitted diseases, whether or not in this legislation, is the current requirement for a marriage that each partner get a syphilis test. This dates back to pre-World War II days when that disease was epidemic and incurable. While syphilis is still a problem, it is a relatively minor one thanks to antibiotics. Required medical testing for marriage licenses needs to be either eliminated as outdated and ineffective, or updated to cover the current STD health risks including HPV, HIV, and Hepatitis B and C.

§ 46-417. Premarital blood tests; statement regarding test to be filed with application.
No application for a marriage license shall be received unless there shall be filed therewith a statement or statements, upon a form prescribed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia, signed by: (1) a person in the District of Columbia certified by the Department of Human Services as duly qualified to administer and interpret a standard laboratory blood test; (2) a physician licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy in the District of Columbia, a state, or a territory or possession of the United States; or (3) a commissioned medical officer in the military service or in Public Health Service of the United States; that the applicant has submitted to a standard laboratory blood test within 30 days prior to the filing of such application, and that, in the opinion of such certified person, physician, or medical officer, based upon the result of that test, the applicant is not infected with syphilis in a stage of that disease in which it can be transmitted to another person. Such statement shall not disclose the technical data upon which it is based. Any such statement shall include the name of the person or laboratory administering the test, the name of the test administered, the exact name of the applicant, and the date of the test.

The language of the existing law prohibits issuing a marriage license if the disease is still communicable. If we add other diseases—or allow the Department of Health to decide which diseases pose a sufficient health risk that they warrant testing—the issuance of a license should be allowed if the individual is being treated for the disease, and consents to disclosure to the intended spouse. Of course we would also support the same testing requirement for domestic partnerships.

Thank you, I am available to answer any questions that you may have.

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